Eating for Healthy Life
Healthy Life

Eating for Healthy Life

Eating for Healthy Life is a post that I have meant to write for some time. I have thought long and hard how best to say what I want to say, without sounding patronising and pompous. I do not want to be misunderstood. The main and the only intention of this post is to talk about what I do in my life, because I believe that it is good for me. This is in no way an advice that other people should follow. However, I hope that the post will inspire some readers to think, perhaps to do a research and to learn more about what I consider to be the most important aspect of our everyday existence – nutrition!  After all, we all eat every day of our lives, two perhaps three meals a day.

Having said that, I am very conscious that there are two, perhaps three billion people on our planet that struggle to secure sufficient daily food. For them, posts like this one are totally meaningless, for them every food is good food, for as long as it keeps them alive.

I have invested a lot of time and effort to educate myself and have read numerous books and internet articles on nutrition. Having acquired some knowledge, I did the best possible thing that I could do. It was at the same time harmless and the most effective: I put my knowledge into practice!

A brief summary of my diet can be described as follows: I avoid to eat any food that, after it has been eaten, it is rapidly digested and converted into blood sugar that becomes elevated to almost diabetic levels. This process induces pancreas to produce insulin. Its role is to regulate the blood sugar level, by converting it into fat. That fat is deposited around the abdomen and internal organs and over a longer period of time it results in ever increasing weight. Well, this is a very basic description of metabolic processes that happen when we eat. But, there are foods that are particularly responsible for such unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels.

 

Eating for Healthy Life Market in Rimini
Fruit and vegetable market in Rimini – Italy

 

Certainly, the science behind this theory is much more complicated. It takes a bit more to properly understand why what we eat is directly responsible for how healthy or unhealthy we are.

Without getting too technical, there are two parameters that I follow to determine what I eat. They are called Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL). The standard for this is glucose (blood sugar), which has a value of 100.

Glycemic index shows how quickly each food affects blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own. The lower the GI of any given food, the better!

Glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in food and how much each gram of carbohydrate in food raises blood sugar levels. Glycemic load is based on glycemic index. To calculate GL, you multiple grams of available carbohydrate in food by food’s GI and then divide by 100. The same as for GI, the lower GL of any given food, the better!

 

Eating for Healthy Life Market in Xi'an
Fruit and nuts stall in Xi’an – China

 

This actually means that carbohydrates are primarily responsible for spikes in blood sugar levels. When I first learnt all this, I was very surprised to find out that some foods that featured regularly in my diet had the highest results for both GI and GL. For example, two slices of brown bread cause a much bigger blood sugar spike than eating an equivalent quantity of a chocolate bar. Both, white and brown bread have a GI result of around 75. We hardly imagine ourselves eating a bar of chocolate for breakfast every day, yet eating bread has the same result, if not worse.

I almost never eat bread and other wheat product such as pasta, cereals and biscuits. Also, I almost never eat potatoes as they are pure starch. I eat rice 3 or perhaps 4 times a month and I don’t eat cakes and sugar in any form. I say almost never, because it is very hard to control a diet when I travel, but that is a different story for another time.

 

Eating for Healthy Life - vegetables in a restaurant in Shanghai
Chinese vegetables in a restaurant in Shanghai – China

 

I eat meat, mainly fish, chicken and turkey, occasionally pork, beef very rarely. Further, I eat eggs, cheese, various types of nuts. Most importantly, I eat a lot of vegetables. I eat fruit in limited quantities because of a high fructose content, which is basically sugar. I cook all my meals from scratch and I never buy ready meals. As a matter of fact, I never buy any product that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label. This means that I never eat highly and ultra processed food. I have a coffee in the morning and I drink water for the rest of the day. I occasionally have a glass of red wine, although I am aware that alcohol also rapidly metabolises into blood sugar.

 

Eating for Healthy Life - steamed cauliflower
Steamed cauliflower in a restaurant in Beijing – China

 

With my diet I eat as much as I want and I am never hungry. I remember in the past, I would have a bowl of “healthy” cereals in the morning. But, two hours later I would be starving again or rather craving for more sugar. Now, I never have cravings, although I do get hungry after a reasonable period of time after my previous meal. I sleep better and I never feel bloated. I used to periodically get red blemishes on my face, for which my doctor prescribed a corticosteroid cream. My face and my skin are perfectly clean now.

My weight is stable despite the fact that I eat a lot. Considering how much I eat, I should be putting on weight but that’s not the case. Furthermore, I hope to prevent getting any of the modern day “life style” diseases. Hypertension, cardio-vascular diseases and other inflammations are most probably directly correlated with unhealthy diets.

The bottom line is that we all have to decide what is best for us. At the time when I learnt all this, I wanted to test the theory. Surely, personal experience is the best evidence that we can have. There was no harm in eliminating certain items from my diet and slightly adjusting my eating habits.

 

Eating for Healthy Life - mussels in Brussels
Mussels in a restaurant in Brussels – Belgium

 

I have been following this nutritional regime for approximately 3 years now and so far, so good. I cannot complain of anything. Rather, it is when I deviate from this diet that I start to suffer and notice things that are not right. The most obvious one is the bloating, that appears as soon as I eat any wheat product.

To finish, I would once again like to underline that this post is exclusively about me and what I do in my life. It is not an advice or a suggestion in any way. I am not a qualified nutritionist, but I am perfectly qualified to decide about my life and my diet. We live in an era of advanced technological development.  Information is available to us like never before. Everyone can do a research, learn and take informed decisions, exactly as I did for myself.

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